Saturday, April 28, 2012

Free guided walk at Pasir Ris Mangroves with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Today is the last session of the Naked Hermit Crabs' April Pasir Ris Mangrove guided walk.
We had about 30 visitors with us today. Many exciting things were seen, including a dead water monitor lizard.

Just before the trip started, Ley Kun found the kapok tree. (Sorry, no pictures from me) When the fruit of the kapok tree explodes, it releases fluffy materials that feels like cotton wool. If I am not wrong, my parents used to buy these fluffy materials from shops to make pillows.

Right at the first bend of the mangrove boardwalk, there were a cluster of garbage bags placed at one corner.

Cluster of garbage bag

Nothing suspicious about that. I figured out that there might have been some cleanup sessions going on in the mangroves earlier. (Come to think of it, this is too little rubbish for Pasir Ris Mangroves)
Wait! There's something incorrect about the items in this trash bags...

Closer look:
A plant in a trash bag???
What is the plant doing in the trash bag? For any cleanup operations, the organsiers must inform the participants that leaves/branches/plants/food should be left alone. They are not trash. Leaves, branches or plants (dead or alive) are part of the natural cycle and they return nutrients back to the soil when they decompose. To any readers reading this, do remember not to pick up any of these items when you are doing cleanups.

Carrying on with our walks...
Just after the first turn on our guided walk route, our group noticed a dead malayan water monitor lizard in the mangroves. It was covered with many feeding flies.
Dead water monitor lizard
We thought of Ivan, who does Monday Morgue.
There wasn't much decaying stench at this point of the boardwalk. However I did get decaying smell at certain points along the boardwalk after that and I was not able to find any other dying organisms.

Right after the dead water monitor lizard, we came across some hovering insects at eye level on the boardwalk. They were too small for pictures to be taken. No idea what they are.

I would describe Pasir Ris Mangrove as an organism magnified of Chek Jawa. The crabs and mudskippers are much larger in Pasir Ris.
There are many giant mudskippers at Pasir Ris. Every point or corner, you will be able to spot the giant mudskippers. They looks as long as an adult foot.

Giant mudskipper

Towards the end of the boardwalk is where the bird watching jetty is. It a good place to look at the grey herons flying around and also the other birds such as barn swallows, kingfishers, night heron, waterhen.
The highlight of today's trip will be a small sized Dog-faced watersnake (Cerberus rynchops) near the jetty. I found the snake and noticed everyone to have a look. It was a good sight for both the adults and children.

Visitors looking at the watersnake
It was a great evening. Uncle Anwar (I assume this is the correct spelling) told the guides that he saw 4 otters swimming in front of the jetty before we came. Darn! Missed the opportunity. I have never seen a wild otter personally. So, finding the watersnake was good enough for me.

Today, the visitors had rather close encounter with the grey herons. One of them perched on a tree right opposite the jetty. There were a few who were flying past the jetty. Usually, we see the grey herons coming in from the seaward direction and they hardly fly past the jetty. No luck for hornbills though.

And I thought this is a beautiful scene of the grey herons returning to their nest:
Grey herons returning to nest

It looks a bit like the scene from Jurassic Park.

It was a hot, humid but great guiding trip today.
Today we had Ria, Ley Kun, Brandon and I for guiding.

The case of the missing and reappearing bird nest

Last week (21 April), Ria noticed that the sunbird's nest outside the female toilet at Pasir Ris Park carpark C was gone/removed/destroyed (?). We were rather sad about it and we didn't took photos of it that day.

Today, we noticed the nest back at the same spot. Weird....

A sunbird's nest outside the female toilet

 A close up view of the nest
It was puzzling for us as we saw the nesting nest 3 weeks ago at the exact same location. Last week when we came back, it was gone. This week it appeared again. Some disappearing act!

However on a closer comparison with the photo Ria took 3 weeks ago, it looks like a different set of nest.

Image taken by Ria Tan on 24 March

Image taken me on 28 April
By comparing the structure of the two nests, it looks like what we saw today is a different set of sunbird's nest.

Case closed!

Visit Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research on 19th May

What's so special about 19th May?
The Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) is having an open house as part of the Children's Season 2012.

RMBR Children's Season Open House poster

There are many activities for both children and adults:

  • Public Gallery Guided Tours
  • Behind the Scenes Guided Tour
  • All about crabs workshops
  • Animal Teeth Forensic
  • Animal Potter (Dinomania is this year's theme)
  • Make your own museum button
  • Masquerade
  • Colour me beautiful
  • Mini Excavation (Be a young paleontologist)

For the schedule of activities, please visit here.
Do take note that some activities require pre-registration and some slots are filling up fast.

So bring your kids to RMBR on this special day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mosquito control at Nature parks and places?

The monthly free guided walk by the Naked Hermit Crabs, the crabs noticed two NEA staff carrying what seems to look like mosquito control equipment.

We were all rather upset to see their presence at Chek Jawa, a beautiful nature place unique with 6 different ecosystems at one location.

Curious, Ria went on a hunting trip to stalk the two staff's activity and she posted her sightings about it.

Was is necessary to apply mosquito control in parks and natural places?
Should mosquito control only be confined to certain places?
What are your thoughts about mosquito control?

I urge you, my reader, to post your thoughts and comments on Ria's post.
Let's make a difference to the greenery of Singapore.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Baby wild boars, nesting hornbills and grey herons at Chek Jawa

It's my first Naked Hermit Crabs guiding trip for the year at Chek Jawa.
Due to school commitments, I couldn't volunteer for the guiding sessions in February and March. The crabs took a CNY break in January.

It was unusually crowded today at Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
There were groups and cyclists going to Pengerang on one side, and crowds of NPCC students and Ubin  visitors on the other. The Ubin bumboat extend their queue line to cater for the large crowd.

People queuing up for bumboats to Ubin

The queue extends in a "L" shaped manner

The bumboat ride

We meet up with 2 visitors at the ferry terminal and off we go to Pulau Ubin.
Upon arrival at Pulau Ubin, you can take the van service to Chek Jawa. Alternatively there are cheap bicycle rental shop for you to cycle to Chek Jawa or you can hike there.

At the entrance of Chek Jawa, Ley Kun was showing our two visitors the map of Pulau Ubin (old map rather) and we saw the rubber tapping next to the shelter. They have shifted the rubber tapping "exhibit" to a new tree. The original tree got too used. I must remember to take picture of the rubber tapping "exhibit" during the next guided walk trip.

Looking at the map of Pulau Ubin

Look! NParks has new signs placed at Chek Jawa.

"No Feeding of Wild Animals: Squirrels, monkeys(the macaques rather) and wild boars."

Today's I had free and easy guiding session.
There were only two groups so the men took over the guiding.
The ladies were free to roam around.
Ria went off first to stalk the mosquito oilers from NEA. (More stories about this when Ria posts it up). Ley Kun and I waited for the last group of 5.While waiting at the information kiosk, there is this cute sculpture made of rocks:

"Rock Concert"

They are made from rocks and a drink can

At the counter, there are information sheets about the wildlife found at Chek Jawa. One of them is about birds:

The group of 5 did not turn up. Ley Kun and I went to check out the grey herons feeding at the lagoon. It was low tide. At the lagoon boardwalk, the fiddler crabs were out in full force. Male fiddler crabs have one large pincer, which they use it to battle with other males or to attract female partners. The female fiddler crabs only has two small pincers.

From the boardwalk, we can see different birds feeding at different parts of the shore.
Pardon the lousy images. They are taken using compact camera through binoculars (it was good to bring my bino along).

This bird is far out from the boardwalk, along the sandbar.

A grey heron hunting between the sandbar and the boardwalk.

In the far distance is Johor. The distinct structure is an oil rig. In the foreground are devices used for seagrass studies. Ria was out helping yesterday. More about Ria's post can be found here.

At the spot where I was observing the grey herons feeding, I found a flower crab just below the boardwalk.

The flower crab does not look alive. Neither does not look like a molt. hmm....
After checking out the shore area, I joined Daniel's group and moved on to the coastal forest for the hornbill's nest. The nesting box was created by Jurong Bird Park and one of such box was placed at Chek Jawa, directly facing human traffic. It is amazing that a pair of hornbills have selected this box for nesting as hornbills are very sensitive to disturbance.

Nesting box for hornbills

I went ahead to check out the "nesting-in-progress' nesting box. When I reached the location, some shuffling on the ground diverted my attention away. It's Mama Wild Boar and her piglets!
I got so excited and this is the highlight for my trip today.

Mama wild boar

According to Ria, Mama wild boar has 7 piglets plus 2 young adults.

Piglet sprinter

Being new borns, they are rather afraid of humans. So they hide and fled at sight of you looking at them.

The piglets stay very close to mama wild boar

Wild boar piglets have distinct watermelon strips on their bodies. They look so cute!

Shortly after I took this picture, Mama wild boar went deeper into the forest and her piglets followed. Daniel's group came after that to check out the hornbill's nesting box. Through my binoculars, I was able to see mama hornbill moving around in her nest. Occasionally, she will peep through the hole in the seal to look at us.

As usual, the Naked Hermit Crabs guided walk ended at House No. 1 and our visitors were invited to contribute to our guestbook in the form of writings or drawings.

While we were waiting for our van at the shelter, Daniel spotted the young adult wild boars behind a waiting van. It seems that the mama wild boar has more important tasks to do (her 7 piglets) and kind of left her older children to roam about.

Lunch was served at the two sisters restaurant with our usual dishes: Stir-fried kangkong, fu yong omelette, 2 black pepper crabs and today-it-felt-neglected fried squid.
The threatening dark clouds forces us to move quickly to the jetty and back to mainland.

It was a great trip.
The next guided walk at Chek Jawa by Naked Hermit Crabs will be on 12 May 2012.


I'm so excited

I'm so excited to revive my blog with what I have today.
The blog posts will be coming soon. 



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